I started this blog before I saw James Patterson promoting his latest adult and children’s books. Yes, he does write children’s books also. And I thought, ‘So write your blog, girl!’ because the truth is that in this world if you don’t promote, who will know about the product? So if you are a parent, a godparent, any relative, and still looking for a gift for a child, give the special gift of a Jamaican/Caribbean book this Christmas. Children will get all sorts of gifts for Christmas; a multitude of toys, computer games, clothes…. Every year I requested and got books for Christmas and my birthday; Bobbsey Twins, then Nancy Drew, Emily Loring, and finally graduating to Lloyd C. Douglas (The Big Fisherman, The Robe, etc.) Yes, I was clearly a reader…but the thing is you have the power to create readers. In a world gone mad, children need to cultivate the habit of reading, if only for a bit of quiet time, where they can think about the story, where they can stop and say, ‘What if…?’ “Could this really happen?’ or just chuckle to themselves with delight. Of course, they could also get books that are read to them by their parents. Family bonding time!
While we tend not to have books dedicated to Christmas, there are some which would make delightful presents at this time of year. For younger children, any or all of the Reggae Band Series by Jana Bent, the most recent of which is Brave Turtellini & the Reggae Band Dolphin Rescue. (These come to mind as I just bought one for a gift). They focus on the environment and the animals in our environment, have lovely illustrations and are accompanied by CDs. In addition, children can learn about the sounds of the different musical instruments. Another delightful series is the Little Lion Series by Kellie Magnus, about a young Rasta Boy and how he overcomes various obstacles, with the guidance and support of his father. The rhyming in these books is particularly delightful, and humourous. Our young new writers are doing us proud.
I am not able to mention all of the books out there, so please don’t mind if I didn’t mention yours. For older children, you can ask for the Sand Pebbles Series, Carlong Publishers. (lots to choose from there - for the age group 8-13), books by LMH, Heinemann/Ginn and Macmillan, or just simply insist that you would like to see the Jamaican/Caribbean books. People have told me that they have asked to be guided to the local books in stores because they can’t find them easily. They appear to be hidden away in some of the stores.
You say our books are more expensive than the foreign books. Well, please remember that 1) some of the foreign books have been around for such a long time that they cost next to nothing to reprint (e.g. Nancy Drew); 2) their print runs are enormous (economies of scale); 3) in giving children our books, you give not only a book but confidence in self. You saw this blog after you’d bought your presents. Oh dear, I feared that. So give a Caribbean book to all of the children you know for birthdays next year.
I, of course, still give myself books for both Christmas and my birthday, and I start buying them from December. Some are adult books and some are children’s books, and I’ll tell you about the children’s later, because some are new.
And today I felt like I had received another happy Christmas gift and was euphoric for quite a while, writing on facebook, etc. This is it; there was a report in the Sunday Observer, entitled, “LMH launches reading programme”. LMH is a trade publisher of both adult and children’s books. The programme includes forming book clubs in schools and also having ‘authors in residence’ who will visit the schools, read to the children, talk with them about their writing. I am thrilled because you may recall I wrote in one blog about the need for book clubs. In addition, about two months ago I visited a school to do creative writing, and took with me, not only my books, but everybody else’s on which I could lay my hands. It seemed a good idea to expose the children to other books besides mine. So that is how I plant to approach, the new year in my visiting of schools. I do hope that this LMH programme goes well and that we don’t throw on it the usual Jamaican version of cold water: ‘It not going work’. ‘Then who them think them is to mek it work’, etc. Do we constantly cling to this kind of pessimism because we fear that things won’t work, and so seek to protect ourselves from disappointment? Or we just have bad mind and don’t want anyone else to succeed at what we haven't bothered to try? Whatever it is, for now, I’m very pleased with this Christmas gift and take it as a sign that things might be looking up for books next year.